Shot in the dark scares neigh­bour

Nelson Mail - - NEWS - JEN­NIFER EDER

A man’s shot in the dark at a pos­sum has landed him in court as a neigh­bour, work­ing late in the bush, claims he was nearly hit.

Peter Gra­ham MacKen­zie was at a friend’s house near Have­lock on the night of Novem­ber 15 last year.

They were drink­ing al­co­hol on the bal­cony over­look­ing Kaiuma Bay when they saw a pos­sum on the prop­erty about 10pm.

The po­lice sum­mary of facts said MacKen­zie grabbed his 7mm .08 ri­fle and fired five rounds.

A neigh­bour was in the bush on the op­po­site side of the bay, about 400 me­tres from MacKen­zie, when he heard the high-pow­ered ri­fle go off.

MacKen­zie was charged with dis­charg­ing a firearm near a dwelling and reck­lessly dis­charg­ing a firearm.

He ad­mit­ted the first charge at the Blen­heim District Court yes­ter­day and the other charge was with­drawn by po­lice.

The sum­mary said the neigh­bour was us­ing a spot­light to do pest con­trol near his prop­erty.

The gun­fire fright­ened him and the man said the rounds hit the ground about 10 me­tres away from where he was stand­ing.

He then saw a spot­light be­ing shone in his di­rec­tion across the bay, so he moved fur­ther around, away from his house.

The man heard two fur­ther shots, again hit­ting the ground within 10 me­tres of where he was stand­ing, he told po­lice.

He was so fright­ened he went to an­other neigh­bour’s house and called po­lice.

When spo­ken to by po­lice, MacKen­zie said he was shoot­ing at pos­sums on his friend’s prop­erty and the rounds landed about 50 me­tres away, within the prop­erty bound­ary.

He had no idea there was some­one across the bay, and had no in­ten­tion of fir­ing near them, he said.

MacKen­zie’s lawyer said he was not drunk at the time, and had only had a few beers, so al­co­hol was not an is­sue for him.

He was a hunter and car­ried a ri­fle in his truck.

MacKen­zie main­tained his com­ment that he was not shoot­ing be­yond his friend’s sec­tion, his lawyer said.

The sound of the bul­lets might have trav­elled over the still water and sounded closer than they were, he said.

But MacKen­zie ac­cepted he should have been more care­ful when shoot­ing.

Po­lice wanted to de­stroy the ri­fle, worth $3000.

But Judge Christo­pher Tuohy said it was worth more than any fine he would give the man, and the is­sue of whether MacKen­zie was fit to hold a gun li­cence could be re­viewed by po­lice after his sen­tenc­ing any­way.

‘‘Hav­ing a firearm is not a right, it’s a priv­i­lege,’’ Tuohy said.

MacKen­zie was con­victed and fined $800.

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